Mythology is in. Undoubtedly in. Ashok Banker did it. Ashwin Sanghi did it. Amish Tripathi did it. And then many more followed, giving rise to a generation of Indian writers – that dug out and dissected every known and unknown character, every known and unknown story from the epics. Every writer brought in their own versions of the Indian mythological epics. And the readers lapped it up. These books also brought back a wave of interest in the original texts.
It will not be entirely incorrect to say that Suhail Mathur is another author to join this bandwagon. However it will not be entirely correct to say that “The Hunt For Rama’s Bow” is another mythological fiction. Because it is not. It is very much a 21st century story, masked as a mythological fiction. Rama is a backpack toting college student of (you guessed it!) history. Lakshmana is his sidekick aka best-friend at college, who faithfully follows Rama on his travels to an alternate universe (AU). Then there are Jaya and Vijaya who make an appearance as their guides, albeit with an ulterior motive – that of defeating Dasavana – the modern day Ravana who lives in the AU in the present age. Of course, many other characters from the Ramayana do make an appearance – Vibhishana, Dushrath, Garuda to name a few.
The quest (again you guessed it!) – find Rama’s bow, the Kodanda, and defeat Dasavana, and free the princess (yes, literally).
So why is this book not another mythological fiction? Because unlike most other myth-fic, the book does not have an other-wordly feel to it. Suhail Mathur has done an excellent job of picking up characters and places from the original epic. But the similarity stops there. The stories that the characters play out are new; the way the stories are played out are also new, sometimes bordering on hilarity. Where else would you have a terrifying rakshasi (demoness) – who can turn anyone to copper with just one look – subdued with the help of a selfie!
There is also a parallel narrative in our own universe, which gives the book a more relate-able feel. Events that happened around the investigation of the Rama Setu are inter-woven into the story-line.
The language is nothing extraordinary. It is colloquial, and average. But the narrative is compact and cohesive. There are no loose ends, every character has a place, and every sub-plot is complete and fits into the overall story. In an art film vs mainstream media metaphor, this definitely is the latter.
Read this book for a different kind of mythological fiction.
Reviewer’s Rating: 4/5
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